The defending Formula 1 world champion ran second in qualifying at Monza as he ceded 0.145s to Leclerc, whereas the opposite Ferrari of Carlos Sainz ran third and 0.268s adrift.
But Verstappen carries a five-place grid penalty into the race following a change of inside combustion engine on the recommendation of provider Honda, as per staff boss Christian Horner.
Verstappen felt he missed out on topping the leaderboard owing to a scarcity of high pace and a loss of grip via the primary sector as his RB18 ran with the next downforce rear wing specification carried over from Spa.
Nevertheless, the Dutch driver reckons it will repay within the GP when he expects diminished tyre put on in comparison with the Ferraris, which he reckoned seemed nervous and can wrestle on excessive gas.
Asked by Motorsport.com whether or not he was happy with the concessions the Red Bull engineers had made, Verstappen mentioned: “I believe in comparison with another automobiles, we nonetheless have excellent high pace.
“It’s just the Ferraris are a little bit faster than us on the straights.”
As a consequence, Verstappen says that despite the diminished impact of the tow following the return of floor results for 2022, he can shortly decide off rivals to take the struggle to Leclerc.
Pole man Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, talks with Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, after Qualifying
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
Verstappen continued: “I’m nonetheless anticipating to get via the sector. Once I get near Charles, it is going to be a bit extra of a battle. But then we now have to depend on a bit extra steadiness via the corners.
“We selected, of course, to make the downforce somewhat bit increased in comparison with another automobiles. But it felt alright. And round right here, qualifying to race can at all times really feel a bit totally different.
“My race runs, they have been actually good [in Friday practice]. With what I’ve seen from the lengthy runs, it appears good for our facet.
“I just need to clear the cars in between us quite quickly and then I think we still have a good chance.”
There was some preliminary ambiguity over precisely the place Verstappen will line up on the grid.
Owing to the five-place penalty, he’ll drop to seventh on the grid.
However, there have been solutions he would possibly line up fourth provided that Sainz, and Lewis Hamilton in fifth all have back-of-the-grid reprimands for exceeding permitted elements limits.
Asked if the confusion meant the penalty system was excessively sophisticated, Verstappen fought again with: “Unless I’m stupid, I think it’s P7. You need to read the rules.”